By Gabrielle Aboudi
Kobe Bryant. Words will never be enough to express the pain that the world is feeling right now. It seems as if everyone has stopped. Expressionless faces walk grudgingly through the streets trying desperately to find comfort in others. As we pass people on the sidewalk, our eyes linger on theirs for a moment longer than usual, hoping to find some mutual understanding. An understanding that we are both broken. Something just doesn’t feel right, and that needs to be recognized. Some are lighting candles as they are inconsolably lost in prayer, others are wearing Lakers hats or jerseys. Yet the physical tributes are not necessary to remind us of this hole in our hearts. Kobe is everywhere around us: in the basketball courts we learned to shoot at, on the trains to work where we watched quick clips of Kobe destroying everyone on the court, in our friendships when we used to shout “Kobe” together as we threw waste into the trash cans in the hallways, and in our homes, where Kobe helped all of us remember the power of love and the importance of family. We can’t escape his legacy. His influence has extended far beyond sports and has reached every soul who knew what he stood for. He helped hundreds of people fight their demons, defended women’s sports with everything in him, and coached his daughters with an intensity that showed his love for the sport.
From the start of his basketball career, which began in Lower Merion, my hometown, he fought every moment to be the best on the court. Many doubted him and his abilities, but he never saw challenges in his life as impassable obstacles. He went on to claim five NBA titles, two Olympic gold medals, and had 18 all- star appearances. He used his pain as fuel, and proved to be one of the best basketball players who ever lived. He also proved to be one of the world’s most prominent figures off the court. His smile was infectious, his kindness unmatched. His drive for perfection was marveled at, and his skills on the court filled every stadium with an awe-inspiring energy. We have lost an acclaimed athlete, a father of four, a husband, and a friend.
During this state of shock, it is difficult to find a way to continue on. Kobe worked relentlessly to be his best-self, and publicly believed that in life, there are no short-cuts. Just hard work and dedication. It is almost impossible to fight off the depressing thought that hard work might just not be enough. What does hard work mean if the results can be taken away so quickly? But this national wave of confusion and sorrow is a testament to how influential each of us can be as individuals. Kobe Bryant alone has touched millions world-wide through his commitment to his work and his character. Each of us is capable of reaching life outside of our circles. As a nation, we are mourning the loss of one individual. So as we revisit the places that remind us of Kobe Bryant and painfully feel his presence loom over us, remember that each one of us can change lives. It is up to each one of us to choose which path to take — give up during times of adversity or use our pain as fuel to become better. Just as Kobe once said, “It’s the one thing you can control. You are responsible for how people remember you — or don’t. So don’t take it lightly.”